ERE Chicago, Day 1: Looking For Answers — and Some Good Questions

ere-falllogo-facebookTuesday morning, at the opening keynote session of the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo in Chicago, kickoff speaker Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director and global practice leader at Towers Watson, offered this piece of wisdom: “You don’t need to have the answers, you just need to ask good questions.”

It’s great advice, of course, and it was just part of Jersuthasan’s opening address on What the Coming Years Will Bring to Recruiting Leaders — and How You Can Respond, which took the results of Talent 2021, a research study conducted jointly by Towers Watson and Oxford Economics, that examines the future of the global workforce.

The research found — and this isn’t a big surprise — that it will look very different from what it looks like today.

But the value of the study isn’t that it says that the global workforce will be different eight years from now, but rather, the map it laid out of where recruiting and talent management is going and what we all need to do as we follow the path to get there.

Talent Demand Will Rise Strongly

The headline challenges and opportunities from the survey underline this:

  • Friction points — By 2021, a new map of talent management and deficits will emerge.
  • Security minded — Whether it is attraction or retention, financial security is top of mind.
  • Generation gap? — Not when it comes to pay … it is the No. 1 attraction driver for all ages in the U.S.
  • Engagement at risk — Only 35 percent are highly engaged, stress is increasing, and energy is flagging.
  • Structurally unsound — Businesses are attempting to reach 21st century heights on 20th century talent and rewards platforms.

Th fact is, demand for talent will rise strongly over the next decade — but supply will rise even faster in emerging countries, such as India, China, and others in the Asia Pacific region.

A Need for New Skills, Too

Jersuthasan offered more insight and analysis from the research, but a couple of his points really jumped out:

1. There is huge value for organizations in achieving high sustainable engagement —

    • 3X operating margin: High-sustainable-engagement companies’ operating margins are 3X higher compared to those with the lowest levels of engagement.
    • 7.3 fewer days: Higher presenteeism, or an average of 6.2 days lost per year for employers with high engagement vs. 13.5 days lost per year for the disengaged.
    • 49 percent lower retention risk: Only 15 percent of employees with high engagement are high retention risk compared to 64 percent of disengaged employees.

2. There will be a need for new skills in the future.

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    • Digital skills (such as digital business skills, the ability to work virtually, digital design skills, and the ability to use social media and Web 2.0);
    • Agile thinking (such as innovation, the ability to consider and prepare multiple scenarios, dealing with complex and ambiguity, and managing paradoxes/balancing opposing views).

There was a lot more to the presentation, and it was an insightful and thought-provoking way to kick off a recruiting conference. And just in case you didn’t get the message the first time, Towers Watson’s Jesuthasan made the point again a little but differently.

“Big changes are coming,” he said “We probably aren’t ready for them.”

Other Great Speakers From Day 1

There were other great speakers on the first full day of the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo, and of course, I couldn’t get to all that I wanted to because there are just too many too attend. But, here are some of the ones I did manage to find time for:

There were more I wish I could have gotten to, of course — like What Your CEO Should Be Doing to Improve Your Company’s Employment Brand and Recruiting by Rosemary Haefner, global VP of human resources at CareerBuilder — but you can’t get to them all.

That’s the case with all conferences, but it becomes more acute at the really good ones. I’ll have another chance to see how many I can get to on the final day of the Fall 2013 ERE Recruiting Conference & Expo today.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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